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In line with the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014), the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) today issued the first efficient vehicle (EEV) manufacturing license to Go Automobile Manufacturing (GAM) to assemble Great Wall Motors products locally.

In partnership with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors, GAM will build Great Wall vehicles for both the domestic as well as export market. The CKD programme will initially involve two GWM models, the Haval M4 and Haval H6 SUVs.

Both will be built at the GAM plant in Gurun, Kedah, which has already been assembling the Haval H5 and Wingle pickup – production is set to begin in June, with market rollout expected to be in September.

Full details on the variants were not disclosed during the license annoucement made today at MITI, but it was mentioned that the M4 will be powered by a 1.5 litre engine – this should be a normally-aspirated VVT four-pot offering 105 hp and 138 Nm.

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As for the Haval H6, two engine versions are expected, as previously reported, these being a 2.0 litre diesel and 1.5 litre petrol, both four-cylinder turbocharged units.

The GW4D20 2.0 TCI diesel offers 140 hp at 4,000 rpm and 310 Nm at 1,800-2,800 rpm, while the GW4G15B 1.5 turbocharged petrol has 140 hp at 5,600 rpm and 210 Nm of twist. Irrespective of engine, the H6 variants will have a front wheel-drive configuration and come with a six-speed manual transmission.

In terms of investment, RM2 billlion will be pumped into the project, out of which around RM700 million will be provided by Chinese investors not aligned to GWM. It is expected to create 4,000 new jobs in Gurun.

The investment will be divided into three phases. The first phase will see the existing plant’s current build capacity of 10,000 units a year being increased to 25,000 units annually. The second phase will take production capacity to 50,000 units by mid-2015, and the final phase will see a 100,000-unit annual production capacity by 2018.

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The investment will also consist of establishing an R&D centre in Gurun, with RM500 million having being allocated for this purpose. The company says that the R&D centre will focus on “developing and enhancing the performance of the right hand-drive powertrain in order to achieve higher fuel efficiency and to further reduce carbon emissions.”

Production will contain 40% local content when it kicks off, and will be increased to 55% by 2016 and 85% by the end of the third phase in 2018.

The GAM-GWM partnership plans to export 60% of its production to ASEAN countries – dealer arrangements already exist in Thailand and Cambodia, with operations expected to commence by Q3 this year.

Go Automobile Manufacturing – which is fronted by CEO Ahmad Azam Sulaiman and has W&R Resources Sdn Bhd listed as its largest shareholder, with a 94.75% stake- took great pains to explain that it had no alignment whatsoever with current local distributor Green Oranges (GOSB), saying that GOSB’s role would be to handle the sales and marketing for Great Wall products.